Scoring a goal is arguably one of the most important elements of a football match, which is why coaches made this the focus at the Manchester United Soccer Clinic today. The young footballers being coached have been at the clinic since the beginning of the week, being trained by professional coaches from the Manchester United Soccer Schools.

“You must focus on the game, if you want to score goals beautifully,” explained head coach Mr. Gregory Mathews.

But a goal cannot be scored in isolation. Besides scoring, being able to dribble the ball is also a very important aspect in soccer, and often works hand-in-hand with goal scoring. The budding soccer stars – who were picked from the recently concluded Airtel Rising Stars pan-African tournament – were particularly enthusiastic about working on this skill today.

“We have learned how to dribble a ball well, and I am [more] confident in my dribbling skills than I was before I came here,” exclaimed Esther David Chiphang’ombe from Malawi.

Watching the young students at the soccer clinic play, it is evident that in just a few days, they have picked up several professional footballers’ skills, vastly improving their method of playing the sport. This has instilled both pride and confidence among the players. “We feel like we are approaching professional heights, we are getting good!” said Sarah, a student from Sierra Leone.

Thirteen year old Esther from Malawi who started playing football in 2009 at the age of nine says she was inspired by her elder brother who is a coach in a local soccer club back home. The form one student says that from the skills she has gained at the clinic she is inspired to explore soccer as a profession.“I am excited about soccer now more than ever before. I want to take it higher and play for my team back home,” she added.

Another budding soccer star at the clinic is fourteen year old Mary Chavinda from Zambia. She says she, too, is motivated to take up soccer as a professional career. “Since I came to the clinic, I have developed great passing and scoring skills. I am now able to pass a ball, with focus and score for my team,” she remarked. “Our coaches have emphasized on teamwork as well as keeping focus on the game and the ball to score a goal,” she added.

Besides football skills the coaches have paid special attention to encouraging the students to stay focused on education. “Not everyone will be a professional footballer,” explains Mr. Gregory. “I would
like you to work hard in school just like you work here in the field.”

In addition, students have also learnt about discipline, respect, and tolerance, to ensure they are groomed as all-round players.

The clinic runs until Friday and is part of a four-year partnership agreement between Manchester United and Airtel Africa.

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